So we decided to try this challenge. Write a short story a week for 52 weeks.
It’s very hard.
I don’t know how it can be done.
Sure, I can write a short story in a day, but we all know it won’t be finished. I have written several this year within a week. None of them were complete. Pick them upa week or two later, a month later, and three months later and you discover how unfinished they are. I honestly don’t know how Ray did it.
I’m going to go out on a limb here and say people of Ray’s ilk, writers in the 1920s, 1930s, and up to the 1960s were not inundated by television, computers, smartphones, the internet, and the global village. Their life was books, books, and more books. They read and wrote and read and wrote. Their skills at as writers 18 were light years beyond ours at the same age.
I work at my writing. I claim to understand most grammar. Yet, as I edit a piece for the fiftieth time, I still find issues. If was spelled of and I never saw it. Generalizations. Inconsistencies. Neoplasms. Weak verbs. Echoed starting sentences. Loss of agency. You name it, I do it.
I don’t know if this year’s efforts will yield publication credits, but I sure have grown. Not only am I writing short stories [all the time] but I am reading them too. My current collection is Joyce Carol Oates’ Telling Stories, an anthology for writers. The two biggest activities writers can do to improve their skills is write and read. That’s what 2018 is for me — the year of the short story.
And I have grown. It’s hard to explain how. A sense of agency in a story might be the biggest thing. And I don’t recall anyone or any book ever teaching it. This year I discovered the concept in Alice LaPlante’s The Making of a Story and then later at a writing workshop. Maybe I just missed it before; maybe it has been worded differently; but it’s now something I try to feel in every story I read and write.
The second thing is this nebulous concept of imagery. I have written a story called Grandpa’s Hat. It’s about my grandfather cheating on my grandmother. Complete fiction, no real names. “The end isn’t logical; the middle doesn’t lead up to your ending.” Interesting; because in my mind it did. Oh, those mid-west, small town values I included but barely showed. Oh, those things I see but nobody else did. Oh … I see now. I can’t explain any better than that, but now when I read it I feel the ending and say, “Oh my!”
So I am busy writing. I am getting there. I can feel it. I am writing stories — I wrote a new one this morning — at the rate of about one every ten days. I have returned to 750words.com and find myself writing down a new story idea about once every three days. And I have a collection started. I have a theme and many of my stories are falling in line. Need maybe six more, depending on a decision. This is a collection I never would have dreamed of writing two years ago. Thanks to keeping one’s eyes and min open. Thanks to social media. Thanks to Ray Bradbury.
Going to try to write more blog posts, but it’s hard. I’m scared of what I might write about the political scene.